It's hard to imagine, but 2020 began somewhat unremarkably. For instance, we at CNET headed to Las Vegas to cover the annual Consumer Electronics Show, just as we'd always done every January for ages.
Little did we know, it would be the last place many of us would travel to, the last time many of us would mix with hundreds and thousands of people, for quite a while...
After weeks of increasingly worrisome headlines about the inevitable spread of coronavirus around the world, events like Mobile World Congress -- normally a fixture on CNET's calendar for February -- were canceled. By mid-March, major cities were going into lockdown, and all of CNET was directed to work from home until further notice.
As cities emptied, the tourism industry came to a halt. Bustling city centers like San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf were left desolate.
Many of us "headed for the hills," so to speak, escaping cities to avoid being trapped in a tiny apartment amid a dense population during a pandemic.
Around the country, it was surreal seeing everything closed.
Beloved restaurants converted to takeout-only operations as restrictions descended and business owners grew more concerned.
Grocery stores and other providers of essential goods started implementing all sorts of safety precautions, providing hand sanitizer at the door and wiping down carts between customers. As the year went on, these measures were expanded upon.
The wearing of masks became mandatory indoors in most public places and businesses. Markings on flooring indicated the appropriate spacing for customers waiting in line.
The stats on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website were complex, and the data was nonstop. Stuck at home glued to our phones and TVs for the latest information, many became more anxious than ever.
As the coronavirus panic unfolded, it seemed that 2020 was a good year to be an introvert.
Of course working from home can be challenging. Here's Patricia Puentes' home Zoom setup for an interview with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings the same day California's skies were eerily orange and dark due to wildfires.
CNET's Bridget Carey sometimes relied on "babysitting" via abuela video chats mirrored to the big screen.
Families had to share special moments over Zoom and other apps. Here you see Carey's daughter hugging the screen after a virtual group birthday song for her special day.
Inspired to set out positive messages to their community, lots of people painted rocks and set them out on city sidewalks and in other public places.
It was a good year for board games and card games.
We found solace in nature, taking hikes and and enjoying open spaces whenever possible as a break from all the staying at home.
Lots of people took up gardening and took on home improvement projects they'd been putting off for years. Lowe's and Home Depot reported record sales in the second quarter.
Fueled by worries about supply chains and shortages, and given the time for new hobbies at home, there was also a major uptick in vegetable gardening around the country.
Throughout the year, we were all urged to stick with mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing to help suppress spread of the coronavirus, and paid close attention to the race to develop an effective vaccine.
A stimulus bill was passed, sending $1,200 to individuals, and $2,400 to couples, via online banking or physical checks in the mail.
Some people were stockpiling weapons in fear of chaos, should society fall apart or a contested election lead to a "civil war."
The Paycheck Protection Program offered everyone from small businesses to huge corporations loans with a 1% interest rate in order to cover payroll for workers they kept on staff over the course of closures due to the pandemic.Still, unemployment has remained high.
Just a few months into the coronavirus lockdowns, the murder of George Floyd was upsetting enough to get lots of people out in the streets for protests, social distancing or no.
Though bigger cities saw more intense actions, including some rioting, even smaller cities like Asheville, North Carolina, had well-attended Black Lives Matter protests.
After years of heartbreaking videos that exposed police killings of Black citizens, the dam seemed to break and we started seeing a real public conversation around reform and defunding. Messages of support for Black Lives Matter popped up everywhere from murals on small businesses to advertising from major corporations.
As coronavirus infection numbers went down over the summer in some areas, many places that had restrictions in place began letting businesses open up, with safety measures in place.
Some businesses found ways to help keep us distanced in their parking lots.
Desperate for haircuts after many months at home, people made appointments at newly opened salons, and stylists, eager to stay employed, took all the precautions possible to stay safe.
Interest in various personal protection equipment exploded as folks got back to work with new safety requirements in place. Arguments over the effectiveness of various mask styles revved up online.
Restaurants that wished to reopen had to do so with limited capacity and/or outdoor-only dining in many locations, which led to a lot of sidewalks and streets looking like this scene in Brooklyn.
2020 saw an exodus from bigger cities like New York, where many citizens, afraid of the population density and tired of paying high rent while being stuck in cramped apartments, gave up their leases and headed for greener pastures.
Authorities say that a return to normal life will only be possible once the majority of people are vaccinated. Thankfully, late in the year, vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna earned emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Still, public health officials urge us to continue social distancing and mask wearing in the months ahead, as the vaccines slowly make their way out to the general population.
In 2020, it seemed like anything unbelievable was now a possibility. The Pentagon released three classified "UFO" videos filmed by US Navy, mystery monoliths appeared around the country and the former head of Israel's space security program said a "Galactic Federation" of aliens is working with the US and Israel.
After all the tumult of 2020, one wonders what will be in store for us in 2021. Here's hoping for the best! Cheers to the new year!